Task Force on the Mental Health, Social, and Emotional Needs of Young Children and Their Families

The NCIOM Task Force on the Mental Health, Social, and Emotional Needs of Young Children and Their Families is working on developing recommendations to ensure that there are systems and services in place to meet the mental, social, and emotional health needs of young children, ages 0-5, and their families.

Full Report | Issue Brief | Chapters
Co-Chairs
Marian F. Earls, MD, FAAP
Medical Director
Guilford Child Health, Inc.
Beth Melcher, PhD
Assistant Secretary for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services Development
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
John Thorp, MD
Division Director and Distinguished Professor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, UNC Health Care
Project Director  Berkeley Yorkery, MPP
Project Director
North Carolina Institute of Medicine
The North Carolina General Assembly directed the NCIOM to study “the needs of young children with mental health problems and their families.” (Section 16.1of Session Law 2010-152). As part of this work the General Assembly has asked the task force to:

  • Examine the current mental health needs of young children, defined as children from birth to age five.

  • Examine existing public and private systems of mental health care that are currently available to families of young children with mental health problems.

  • Identify evidence-based and promising universal, selective, and indicated prevention strategies to promote the emotional well-being of young children.

  • Identify the impact of parental substance use on fetal development and parenting skills;

  • Identify strategies to ensure high-risk children and their families have access to a comprehensive range of treatments and services, including those that address perinatal substance abuse and other causative and related factors;

  • Identify strategies for early screening and identification of young children with mental health risk factors or mental health problems. The screening and identification strategies shall address the impact of parents' behavioral health problems on the mental health of their young children.

  • Review evidence-based and promising interventions and systems to promote the positive mental health and emotional well-being of young children and their families.

  • Identify strategies to ensure that children who are at high risk of developing mental health problems and their families have access to a comprehensive range of treatments and services, coordinated across agencies and service systems that are (i) culturally, linguistically, and developmentally sensitive; (ii) individualized; (iii) family-centered; (iv) home-, school-, and community-based; and (v) evidence-based.

  • Examine workforce adequacy and training needs of mental health professionals and other professionals who provide services to young children and their families.

  • Examine the adequacy of State and other funding to support a comprehensive array of evidence-based services.

  • Recommend strategies to develop, evaluate, and disseminate treatment and service delivery models to meet young children's mental health needs.


The Task Force will provide an interim report to the 2012 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly and a final report to the 2013 Session.